One is a German-engineered sport sedan, The other a mid-size four-door designed specifically to American tastes. Based on the badges on their grilles, we wonder if they were switched at birth.
Buick Regal GS
Many prospective buyers will be crestfallen to learn that the Regal GS, which was engineered largely in Germany, will not come with the turbocharged V-6 and all-wheel-drive set-up found in the Opel Insignia OPC. Instead, it will rely on a higher-output version of the Regal Turbo's four-cylinder powering the front wheels. GM officials claim that the primary reasons for this milder configuration have to do with weight and fuel economy. We bet cost concerns also played a big role, along with the larger question of where the brand should be positioned.
What do you get with the GS? For starters, the Regal Turbo's 2.0-liter has been amped up from 220 hp to 270 hp and from 258 lb-ft of torque to an impressive 295 lb-ft. That power will travel to the front wheels via an honest-to-goodness six-speed manual (a six-speed automatic will be available shortly after launch). Buick promises the Regal GS will reach 60 mph in "under seven seconds." A new strut design up front, already seen on the V-6-powered LaCrosse, will purportedly improve steering feel and combat torque steer. In addition, the Regal will employ adjustable dam- pers with three settings.
The interior sparkles with Germanic charm, featuring heavily bolstered black leather front buckets, a flat-bottomed steering wheel, and satin trim. All very nice, but would it have been too much to ask for a few cues to Buick's own performance heritage, such as a blacked-out front grille and a retro turbo badge?
ON SALE: Now | PRICE: $35,310 | GERMAN INFLUENCE: Boosted, small-displacement engine | AMERICAN ROOTS: The old-man badge
Aimed squarely at the core of the mid-size segment, the Passat is significantly changed to broaden its audience. Chief among the differences is a $7000 price cut, thanks to a new assembly plant on American soil and a five-cylinder engine that replaces the turbocharged four-cylinder. Stretching the wheelbase 3.7 inches yields increases to both front and rear legroom. Optional engines include a 280-hp narrow-angle V-6 and a 2.0-liter turbo-diesel that returns 43 mpg on the highway. In all, the Passat is a competent sedan for middle America, even if it isn't the unique offering it once was.
ON SALE: Now | PRICE: $20,765 | AMERICAN INFLUENCE: 1.4 inches of additional rear legroom | GERMAN ROOTS: Optional diesel engine